“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” echoes the John Lennon lyrics. The musical reference alludes to the certainty that we really, ever, only have the slightest rein on our own destinies. Sometimes we may be looking to zig, but if life determines that we zag, the best we can do is to hang on and make course adjustments.
Michael Lewis takes a moment to be alone with his thoughts before round 2 at Silverstone. Photo copyrighted by Tomas Suer, Motorsport Publication, & Marcello Puglisi.
The No. 5 kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport Mercedes-Benz is ideally set up for Lewis to achieve victories. Photo copyrighted by Tomas Suer, Motorsport Publication, & Marcello Puglisi.
Since his days as a kid racing karts, Lewis has been on a clear path with his motorsports destiny. For the past couple of years he’s been living in Italy and competing in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, it’s the farm league for the big show, Formula 1. The 22-year-old has been making it look easy, living away from home, shouldering the constant weight of big-time sponsorship expectations, and competing against some of the most talented young racers in the world. Lately though Lewis has had to make some of his own course adjustment, on and off the track, but demonstrating the heart of a champion in route to greatness, he’s found his line and he’s getting back up to full speed.
You joined the kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport team only a week before the second race of the season; does that mean you sat out round 1?
"Yes, I joined the team literally a week before the Silverstone Round 2 FIA Formula 3 European Championship weekend. It is really a great moment for me in my career to now be associated with such a strong team as kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport. Team Boss, Peter Mücke, has organized a great group of people to produce fast race cars over the years and I am honored to represent his team at the races.”
Even with a lack of seat time in his new car, Lewis was able to demonstrate what he’s capable of in challenging conditions. Photo copyrighted by Tomas Suer, Motorsport Publication, & Marcello Puglisi.
There has to be a back-story to you changing teams so abruptly?
“There is definitely a back story to this change, but I must say that it is nothing but a positive one. The winter season from November 2012, to the very end of March 2013, was very long and trying for me as a race driver. Due to some political complications with my old team (Prema) I was unable to drive for them in 2013. Prema and I left on a good/professional note, so there is no animosity there. Prema has done good things for my career and I wish them a successful 2013.”
“Anyway, my father (who is sort of a manager for me) and myself found out we wouldn’t be racing with them pretty late into the offseason, around late December. In addition to that, there were some pretty intense complications in my personal family life that I had to tend to, which made things extremely complicated. These past winter months were the most difficult times I had ever faced in my life. First, I didn't know if I would race at all this 2013 season, and second I had to face and deal with all the political nonsense of a family divorce. However, as crazy as it sounds, my father and I remained resilient and determined to continue racing in Europe for 2013.”
“So as January-February-March 2013 played out, there were many discussions with high level teams in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. I must thank every team for their time and desire to have me race for them. In the end, as things got down to the wire, the strong kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport team and Mercedes-Benz called us and presented a contract that was extremely positive.”
Despite some recent rough patches, Lewis is confident and at ease with his new team. Photo copyrighted by Tomas Suer, Motorsport Publication, & Marcello Puglisi.
“The team needed a fast driver to replace their lead No. 5 car, as that driver had been called up to DTM by Mercedes-Benz. So, unfortunately I was not driving at the first Monza Round1 FIA Formula 3 European Championship weekend, but being physically present at the Monza race was extremely beneficial.”
“kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport saw that I was available to drive (as I was in the paddock speaking with potential teams) and they said that I could start immediately with them for Round 2 at Silverstone. This was a sort of dream come true as kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport is a prestigious team.”
“I must really thank kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport and Mercedes-Benz for this opportunity, and I look forward to being competitive, winning races, and standing on the podium for 2013. This winter has made me stronger than ever as a person, as dealing with all of that adversity has given me valuable tools that I can use for the rest of my life. Every time I get in the car and drive, I enjoy it to the max and I really give my best effort because it's my passion and what I live for everyday."
Based on how you competed at Silverstone, is it reasonable to assume that your new team is a better fit with how you drive and race?
"Absolutely yes! I feel right at home in the No.5 Mercedes-Benz powered Dallara Formula 3 car. My mechanics, engineer (Peter Flückiger), and all of the team are very professional and give their best effort all the time. They want to win just as bad as I do, so we work together extremely well to achieve that goal. After being with kfzteile Mücke Motorsport for a little over a week, I can see that the team is extremely passionate about racing, that each member of the team enjoys working together, and that the desire to win is there.”
You had some very positive sessions at Silverstone, what’s your take on the weekend now that you’ve had some time to reflect?
"It was definitely a good start to the weekend being P3 in Free Practice under the rain. I was P1 for most of the end parts of the session, and it was a great feeling to get back in the car. Qualifying in the dry did not go so well (in terms of a result), as the lack of dry seat time hurt me the most. It just took another few laps to get going, but there weren't "another few laps" to use really. So I just put in my best effort for what I had in Qually, and my engineer and I just looked towards the races to get mileage and develop our working relationship.”
“All three races were quite flawless in terms of driving: amazing starts, many great overtakes, and good/solid finishes. In Race 1 I started P20 and finished P13. In Race 2 I started P18 and finished P11. In Race 3 I started P13, was running in P11 at the end of the first lap when another driver crashed into the back of my car (sending me off the race track) in the Maggots-Becketts-Chapel complex. Aside from being crashed out of Race 3 from another driver, and the strange Qually, my pace and lap-by-lap consistency was quite strong."
With two rounds down, what goals do you look for from round 3 and for this season overall?
"I would like to Qualify in the top 10. I feel I can do an even better result, but I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. Like my engineer Peter Flückiger always tells me, 'Just do what the car can give you and don't invent anything crazy. Just drive and be strong lap by lap.' Hockenheim is a nice track and I know my kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport guys will give me a great car and their best effort for that event.”
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